State Appropriation of Traditional Actors and Oral Narratives in Timor-Leste

  • Lúcio Sousa Department of Social Sciences and Management, Universidade Aberta
Keywords: Nation Building, Oral Tradition, Peacebuilding, Political Legitimacy, Timor-Leste

Abstract

In Timor-Leste, the lia na`in (lian = word; na`in = lord, master) – leaders of customary practice – are becoming key to tradition, to “kultura” (culture), an emerging area of public cultural policies. Traditionally associated with the local communities and the mountains, they are the ones that know and pronounce the words that uncover the origin of the world, and the relationship between mankind, nature, and ancestors. Since 20 May 2002, when political power was handed from the United Nations to the Timorese authorities, several episodes have illustrated that the involvement of the lia na`in has shifted from their traditional local contexts to national ones. From small-scale sociopolitical agents, the lia na`in became a resource as buffers of conflict or of reconciliation, as council members of the suco, the smallest administrative division, and as actors in national state ceremonies, taking part in the process of (re)creating the nation’s cultural identity. The purpose of this article is to discuss the role assigned to lia na`in in state affairs and the nation, particularly the role concerning conflict resolution. The argument, I propose, is that the participation of the lia na`in, as a ritual authority, in state-sponsored ceremonies has become a major resource of credibility to the new national authorities.

Author Biography

Lúcio Sousa, Department of Social Sciences and Management, Universidade Aberta

Lúcio Sousa is professor of anthropology at the Department of Social Sciences and Management at Universidade Aberta, Portugal, and a researcher at the Institute for the Study of Literature and Tradition (IELT-FCSH-UNL).

References

Acciaioli, G. (1985). Culture as art: From practice to spectacle in Indonesia. Canberra Anthropology, 8(1-2), 148-172.

Anderson, B. (2003). Imagined communities. London: Verso.

Berthe, L. (1972). Bei Gua itinéraire des ancêtres. Mytthes des Buank de Timor. Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Braithwaite, J., Charlesworth, H., & Soares, A. (2012). Networked governance of freedom and tyranny. Peace in Timor-Leste. Canberra: ANU Press.

Brown, A. (2015). State formation and political community in Timor-Leste: The centrality of the local. RCCS Annual Review, 7, 113-131.

Castro, A. (1867). As possessões portuguezas na Oceania. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional.

Cinatti, R. (1964). Brevíssimo tratado da província de Timor. (Separata da) Revista Shell, 346.

CJITL/Benny. (2012, November 27). Cerimónia de 100 anos Dom Boaventura começa com “Nahe Biti Boot”. Retrieved from http://100anosmanufahi.blogs.sapo.tl/2960.html

Clamagirand, B. (1982). Marobo: une societe ema de Timor. Paris: Le Centre de Documentation et de Recherches sur l'Asie du Sud-Est et le Monde Insulindien.

Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor [CVAR]. (2013). Chega! The final report of the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR). Jakarta: PT Gramedia.

Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. (2016). Law No. 9/2016. Law of Sucos. Retrieved from https://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/suco_law.2016.english.final_.pdf

Dores, R. (1907). Diccionário Teto-Português. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional.

Durand, F. (2011). Trois siècles de violences et de luttes au Timor oriental (1726-2008). Violence de masse et résistance - Réseau de recherche. Retrived from https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/fr/document/trois-siacles-de-violences-et-de-luttes-au-timor-oriental-1726-2008

European Union. (2018). Election experts mission to Timor-Leste. Early Legislative Elections Timor-Leste, 12 May 2018. Final report. Retrieved from https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/final_report_eem_timor_2018_english.pdf

Figueiredo, F. (2011). Timor a presença Portuguesa (1769-1945). Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Históricos, Uni- versidade Nova de Lisboa.

Forbes, E. (1885). A naturalist's wanderings in the Eastern Archipelago. A narrative of travel and exploration from 1878 to 1883. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Fox, J. (Ed.). (1997). The poetic power of place. Comparative perspectives on Austronesian ideas of locality. Canberra: ANU Press.

Fox, J. (Ed.). (1980). The flow of life. Essays on Eastern Indonesia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

França, B. (1897). Macau e os seus habitantes. Relações com Timor. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional.

Graça, J., & Menezes, M. (2017). Para uma justiça de matriz timorense. O contributo das justiças comunitárias. Dili: Comissão para a Reforma Legislativa e do Sector da Justiça and Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra. Retrieved from https://eg.uc.pt/bitstream/10316/48132/1/Para%20uma%20justi%C3%A7a%20de%20matriz%20timorense.pdf

Gunn, G. C. (1999). Timor Loro Sae. 500 years. Macao: Livros do Oriente.

Gunter, J. (2008). Violence and “being in history” in East Timor. Local articulations of colonial rebellion. Master thesis, ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa.

Hicks, D. (2007). Community and nation-state in East Timor. Anthropology Today, 23(1), 13-16.

Hicks, D. (1976/2004). Tetum ghosts & kin. Fertility and gender in East Timor. Long Grove: Waveland Press.

Hohe, T. (2002). The clash of paradigms: International administration and local political legitimacy in East Timor. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 24(3), 569-589.

Kingsbury, D. (2009). East Timor. The price of liberty. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

La`o Hamutuk. (2013, September 14). Laohamutuk [Konsultasaun ba proposta Kódigu Mineiru hahú ona]. Retrieved from: http://laohamutuk.blogspot.com/2013/

Lusa, A. (2006, December 25). 2006 foi o ano de retrocesso em Timor-Leste. RTP Notícias. Retrieved from https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/2006-foi-o-ano-de-retrocesso-em-timor-leste_n133604

Manu-Teen lulik loke ona ‘portaun’ palasiu governu ba Alkatiri. (2017, September 28). Independente.tl. Retrieved from https://info-timor.blogspot.com/2017/09/manu-teen-lulik-loke-ona-portaun.html

May, J. (2004). State and society in Papua New Guinea. The first twenty-five years. Melbourne: ANU-Press.

Molnar, A. (2010). Timor Leste: Politics, history, and culture. London: Routledge.

Palmer, L. (2007). Developing Timor-Leste: Recognising the role of custom and tradition. In School of Social and Environmental Enquiry (SSEE), The University of Melbourne (Ed.), Exploring the tensions of nation building in Timor-Leste (pp. 35-40). SSEE Research Paper No. 1. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331288016_Developing_Timor_Leste_Recognising_the_Role_of_Cus-tom_and_Tradition

Pascoal, E. (1967). A alma de Timor vista na sua fantasia. Lendas, fábulas e contos. Braga: Barbosa & Xavier.

Pelissier, R. (2007). Timor em Guerra A Conquista Portuguesa. Porto: Editorial Estampa.

Pemberton, J. (1994). Recollections from “beautiful Indonesia” (somewhere beyond the postmodern). Public Culture, 6(2), 241-262.

PM Timorense regressa 11 anos depois ao Palácio do Governo, onde prometeu não voltar. (2017, September 27). Diário de Notícias. Retrieved from https://www.dn.pt/lusa/pm-timorense-regressa-11-anos-depois-ao-palacio-do-governo-onde-prometeu-nao-voltar-8802774.html

Roque, R. (2010). Headhunting and colonialism. Anthropology and the circulation of human skulls in the Portuguese Empire, 1870-1930. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sá, A. B. (1961). Textos em teto da literatura oral timorense. Lisboa: Junta de Investigações do Ultramar.

Santos, B. (2001). Os processos da globalização. In B. S. Santos (Ed.), Globalização. Fatalidade ou utopia? (pp. 31-106). Porto: Afrontamento.

Seixas, P. (2010). Dualism, mimetic violence and culture of translation: The crisis in East Timor. In P. Seix- as (Ed.), Translation, society and politics in Timor-Leste (pp.79-96). Porto: Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa.

Seixas, P. (2006). Timor-Leste viagens, transições, mediações. Porto: Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa.

Silva, K. (2016). Governando pessoas, coisas e rituais. A construção da nação como um processo de purificação em Timor-Leste. In S. Smith, N. Mendes, A. Silva, A. Ximenes, C. Fernandes, & M. Leach (Eds.), Timor-Leste o local, regional e global, (Vol. I) (pp.100-105). Proceedings of the Timor-Leste: The Local, the Regional and the Global Conference. Dili: Timor-Leste Studies Association. Retrieved from: http://tlstudies.org/pdfs/TLSA%20Conf%202015/VOLUME%20I/Volume%20I.pdf#page=100

Silva, K. (2014). O governo da e pela kultura: Complexos locais de governança na formação do Estado em Timor-Leste. Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais, 104, 123-150.

Silva, R. (2019). Tanbasá sa`e foho? Reprodução e transformação da vida social das casas sagradas no Timor-Leste pós-colonial. PhD dissertation, Universidade de Brasília.

Soares, B. (2003). Challenges for the future. In J. Fox & B. Soares (Eds.), Out of the ashes. Destruction and reconstruction of East Timor (pp. 262-276). Canberra: ANU Press.

Sousa, L. (2016). A Revolta de Manufahi de 1911-1912. Testemunhos e a imprensa diária da época. In R. Feijó (Coord.), Timor-Leste colonialismo, descolonização, lusutopia (pp. 93-117). Lisboa: Edições Afrontamento.

Sousa, L. (2010a). An tia: Partilha ritual e organização social entre os Bunak de Lamak Hitu – Timor-Leste. PhD dissertation, Universidade Aberta.

Sousa, L. (2010b) Saluting the flag, greeting the nation, Bobonaro, Timor-Leste, 20th May 2002 [online video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fdpxvIqTKbI

Sousa, L. (2009). Denying peripheral status, claiming a role in the nation: Sacred words and ritual practices as legitimating identity of a local community in the context of the new nation. In C. Cabasset-Semedo & F. Durand (Eds.), East-Timor. How to build a new nation in Southeast Asia in the 21st Century? (pp. 105- 120). Bangkok: IRASEC/CASE.

The Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of East Timor. (2002). Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Retrieved from http://timor-leste.gov.tl/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Constitution_RDTL_ENG.pdf

Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance. (2019). Sensus Fo Fila Fali. Retrieved from https://www.mof.gov.tl/about-the-ministry/statistics-indicators/sensus-fo-fila-fali/?lang=enus-fo-fila-fali/?lang=en

Traube, E. (1986). Cosmology and social life: Ritual exchange among the Mambai of East Timor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Trindade, J. (2008). Reconciling conflicting paradigms: An East Timorese vision of the ideal state. In D. Mearns (Ed.), Democratic governance in Timor-Leste: Reconciling the local and the national (pp. 160-188). Darwin: Charles Darwin University Press.

Tsing, A. (2000). The global situation. Cultural Anthropology, 15(3), 327-360.

Tsuchiya, K. (2018). Indigenization of the Pacific War in Timor Island: A multi-language study of its contexts and impact. War & Society, 38(1), 1-22.

Viegas, S., & Feijó, R. (Eds.). (2017). Transformations in independent Timor-Leste. Dynamics of social and cultural cohabitations. London: Routledge.

Published
2019-12-24
How to Cite
Sousa, L. (2019) “State Appropriation of Traditional Actors and Oral Narratives in Timor-Leste”, Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 12(2), pp. 209-223. doi: 10.14764/10.ASEAS-0022.
Section
Current Research on Southeast Asia